Posts Tagged ‘volunteering’

Blight Busters
Pick up a paint brush and hammer with this organization. Blight Busters renovates blighted neighborhoods, creating better neighborhoods and closer-knit communities. They revitalize the area we call home, attracting business and new residents. Not to mention, they are kid-friendly!

http://www.blightbusters.org/

Detroit Institute of the Arts
The millage passed, and the DIA is better than ever. Cultural institutions like these not only help revitalize our community, but enrich and educate us. You’ll be surrounded by exquisite art while supporting an institution that pulls tourism to Detroit.

http://www.dia.org/get-involved/

Detroit Zoo
The best opportunity for the animal and science lovers, learn about ecology while supporting another great community institution. Become a work with animals and children, permanently, seasonally or during events. I’ve got to admit, these opportunities look fun!

http://www.detroitzoo.org/volunteers

Focus Hope
These guys promote everything from education to community revitalization and full stomachs. With this program, you have a wide array of opportunities from research, to tutoring, to food delivery. This big organization will surely have a great place for you.

http://www.focushope.edu

Mercyworks International
Yes, this is us. We’re a new faith-based organization working on food distribution, substance abuse prevention,  and entrepreneurial training in this city. Our opportunities take you in the heart of the Detroit, or keyed into the web as a social media volunteer. We even offer unpaid internships for Detroit’s young adults (like me!).

http://www.mercyworks.net/

For more opportunites, check out Michigan.gov’s website on volunteering, click here

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Check out this cool article on volunteering for kids!

Best Volunteer Opportunities For Kids In Detroit « CBS Detroit.

VolunTourism is exactly how it sounds: A voluntourist is one who plans a vacation around community service. Usually trips like these take you to exotic, beautiful lands—ones you’d usually visit to lounge around in sun, or ones you may never have considered visiting otherwise. Voluntourism gives you a chance to feel you’ve contributed while on vacation, but is that feeling only that—a feeling? Here’s what the proponents and critics have to say:
Proponents Say:
While we all want to avoid sounding like the ‘western cure,’ you, as westerners, do possess some valuable, transferable skills to the developing world. Namely, you’re an expert in western culture and English. As the world becomes more interconnected, cultural understanding becomes more important for economic development. That being said, it’s also more important for YOU to understand other cultures, and voluntourism will teach you more about culture than sunbathing by a pool.
**For more info on VolunTourism: http://www.voluntourism.org/
Critics Say:
Remember what I said about cultural understanding? Well it’s also central to the critic’s argument. As westerners, we are not experts on the culture of the developing world. As a result, voluntourism does not always have the intended life-enhancement for local peoples. In fact, it often does the opposite: sometimes it’s as little as poking are heads where they’re not want, sometimes as bad as propping up fraudulent organizations. Whether you support volunteerism or not, you should take time to research the organization you plan on volunteering with.
**For more info on potential problems: http://matadornetwork.com/change/why-you-shouldnt-participate-in-voluntourism/
An Altruistic Alternative:
Looking to make a difference in the world? Why not play it safe—act locally! There are causes equally as pressing state-side—causes that are also less culturally complex. Why not work to stamp out poverty right here in Detroit? End urban famine volunteering on an urban farm or in a food bank. You could promote as much economic development by removing blight in Brightmoor as buying a plane ticket to Africa. Consider local volunteering different kind of voluntourism–one with day trips instead of hotels, cars or buses instead of a planes. We can guarantee your experience will be just as life changing in Detroit as it would be in a foreign country!
**For more info on local volunteering in Detroit: http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/index.jsp?r=msa&l=49270
**Want to volunteer in Detroit with MercyWorks Intl? Contact volunteer@mecryworks.net
What are your thoughts on volunteerism? Let us know in the comments!

Volunteering with your Family

Convince yourself and your spouse
I know, I know, volunteer work probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when we say ‘R&R’—after all, you’re committed to the ultimate 24-hour volunteer job: parenting.  You may have a stressful job, maybe even two! However, this stress only gives you more reason to put aside time to spend with the family. Theme parks and travel can be expensive, volunteer work is free. It’s just as educational as a museum and often just as fun. Many have fun perks, giving you access to sports and other activities you would have paid for otherwise. You can put your hobbies to great use and do it all with the whole family.

Convince the Kids
Elementary school kids love to volunteer. I remember fighting over the broom during fourth grade chore time. If you present  these guys a few choices of programs, chances are they’ll go for it! You’re biggest road block will be finding a kid-friendly volunteer organization. Luckily, they exist! Try organizations involving gardening/permaculture, animals or other kids! Check out Compassionate kids for more info!

Convince the Tweens and Teens
This will be tough. They’re going through that phase when doing anything that they don’t have to do seems unreasonable, especially if means being around you. This stage will pass, it may take a while, but it will pass. Not too long ago (less than a decade) I was in their position: bored, frustrated, seeking independence with no car, looking to make connections in my new teen world. I know their motivations—one of which is cutting down homework. Many teachers will give extra credit for volunteer work, so why not ask? Some opportunities go well with the curriculum: history teachers will love seeing your teen volunteer with local museums, science teachers will delight as teens volunteer during natural disasters or with hospitals. If the opportunity is long term, they might even get school credit! Suggest teen-centered volunteer opportunities as a way to make friends. Perhaps even grant amnesty for other family events if they volunteer with you.

Convincing the Juniors and Seniors
These guys are probably as busy as you are, but that can work to your advantage. Not only is it a break from homework and stress, it’s productive procrastination! They know volunteer work looks good on a college and scholarship applications—especially if it’s something they’re passionate about. Volunteering may be one of the last chances you get to spend time as a family before they go off to college—because you don’t have to travel very far, these soon-to-be-graduates won’t have to sacrifice their summer jobs like they would for a family vacation.
How has volunteering brought your family together?

1.    Find something you care about
This goes without saying, but research may be harder than you think. The first organizations  that come to mind (like soup kitchens) often need the least amount of help. You may find better matches that need you more elsewhere. If you’re having no luck with the traditional Google search, check out websites like Volunteer Match, Craig’s List: Volunteer, or even check out Mercyworks Volunteer’s  twitter feed @mwvolunteer. If you’re a student, check out your school’s Career Center–You may just find a hidden opportunity, tailored just for you!
2.    Do a background check
This is especially important if you use Craig’s List. Most people have qualms about scamming those who want to volunteer, but it’s still important to know what you are getting into. Will you be working in an office or in the field? Will you learn a great deal from your opportunity, or will you just do the grunt work? Do you really support the aims and approach of the organization? Make sure you answer these questions before you commit.
3.    Make a great first impression
Any organization is happy to have you. Really happy. However, if you don’t communicate your skills, you may be stuck doing the jobs that are lying around undone. If you’re people-oriented, make sure the organization knows it! Don’t get stuck shredding papers or cleaning the office , so use your first call or email to your advantage.
4.    Treat your volunteer work like it’s a job
Hopefully it’ll be a pretty fun job, though. While your money is not on the line, you should still give volunteer work your all. Why? Often, you’ll cause a lot more harm if you offer to help but don’t follow through. Don’t add to the chaos, by being late, putting forth minimal effort be the volunteer of the month! You’ll make more friends, move up the ranks and make more of a difference.
5.    Network
Like-minds are all around you. Take advantage of it! These people will remember your work and your passion! Being a volunteer means becoming a bigger part of your community—and this community will help you when you need it.

HBO’s The Newsroom starts with a diatribe: Jeff Daniels’ character, an apolitical news anchor, describes today’s young adults as “the worst, period; generation, period; ever, period.” Why? Apathy. “Many Boomers view Millennials to be lazy, disrespectful and self-absorbed. Meanwhile, Millennials seem to become easily frustrated with the closed-mindedness of the seniors,” say the Young Nonprofit Professionals of Detroit.
But are Millennials really apathetic? No:
“Renewed interest in public service is visible across the country. Applications for AmeriCorps positions have nearly tripled to 258,829 in 2010 from 91,399 in 2008. The number of applicants for Teach for America climbed 32 percent last year, to a record 46,359. Organizations like Harvard’s Center for Public Interest Careers have been overwhelmed — and overjoyed — with the swelling demand from talented 20-somethings.” New York Times
It seems graduating in tough economic times has increased Millennials’ incentives to take altruistic, nonprofit jobs. After all, if high paying jobs are few and far between, why not take a job that pays poorly but does good? However, to compete in an environment like this, we’ve become aggressively ambitious and pragmatic—things Baby Boomers may confuse with self-centeredness and apathy.
Closing the Generation gap with volunteer work:
We can do one better than just working for a non-profit–we can volunteer. Volunteer work is the most effective way to show Baby Boomers that we care. Millennials should pick a cause we care about, sacrifice our limited time as a student, and work for free alongside the older generations. We are also well positioned for this kind of work. After all, most of us are only responsible for ourselves and can devote more of our free time to a cause. As I mentioned in previous blog entries, we could use the work experience involved with volunteer work as well.
Baby Boomers need Millennials as much as Millenials need Baby Boomers:
We are keyed into the Internet in a way Baby Boomers are not. We can make word spread more quickly and more effectively than they can. If we can connect the Baby Boomer experience with Millenial speed, positive change is inevitable. Millenials: it’s your duty to connect, so volunteer.

24 Opportunities for 9 Types of People

1. For Outdoors-y People:
Volunteer work does not have to be a chore for you—it’s a chance to smell the trees, plants, and possibly the sweet stench of fertilizer. Volunteer opportunities can take you to national parks, urban farms, and anywhere in between. Check out a few of these:

http://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm
http://detroitagriculture.net/jobs-or-volunteering/
http://www.detroitzoo.org/volunteers/volunteer-opportunities-belle-isle

2. For Young People:
Work experience and skills are more than just a priority for you nowadays–they’re  a necessity. Lucky for you, volunteer work can provide work experience and even a chance at leadership and management. Volunteer organizations love young people because they are eager, energetic, and often have more time to devote. As a result, there is a plethora of teen/young adult-centered volunteer programs (even internships) open, although you are likely to be successful in more adult-centered organizations. Also lucky for you, you can do much of your work during the summer, granting you incredible flexibility and opportunity to advance. Here are a few opportunities:

http://www.youthenergysquad.org/volunteer.html
http://www.habitatdetroit.org/volunteer/youth_programs/
http://www.ymcastorercamps.org/give/volunteer/

3. For the Nurturing:
Are you people-centered? Do you want to watch those you help develop and succeed? For those looking for the one-on-one experience (or enthralled with education), why not mentor or teach? You’re more likely to see your life-changing effects by becoming a role model, guiding youth into adulthood, or teaching reading skills. Feel good fulfilling huge educational needs for children, teens, and adults:

http://www.youthvilledetroit.org/opp/volunteer.html
http://www.bbbsdetroit.org/site/c.clKXIlOVIcJ4H/b.6499013/k.EE8D/Home_Page.htm
http://www.proliteracydetroit.org/index.php?option=com_chronocontact&Itemid=53

4. For Sports-fanatics:
Looking for a great seat or a chance to be close to your favorite team? Volunteer work can take you there. Sports events often require hoards of volunteers to run smoothly, which usually gets you free tickets, and other cool perks. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be hard to find these opportunities, but luckily, those looking to teach and do sports have opportunities to mentor students:

http://www.detroitsports.org/events/volunteersplash.html
http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/index.jsp?r=msa&aff=&categories=19&l=Detroit%2C+MI%2C+USA

5. For the Creative:
Work can leave you feeling creatively unfulfilled. Some of us feel the urge, the creative pull– to make something! Build Something! Volunteer! The tighter school budgets become, the greater need for non-profit art programs becomes. Help with an art museum, volunteer as a blogger, or if you are interested in more practical building skills, why not volunteer in an organization that teaches you carpentry skills building houses?

http://mocadetroit.org/opportunities/volunteers.html
http://www.fpa.org/jobs/index.cfm?act=show_job&job_id=1259
http://www.habitat.org/getinv/

6. Long Term:
Mostly for young adults, these programs last for several months to a year. They often grant stipends, or offer prestigious work experience—perfect for those looking to take a gap year after high school or college.

http://www.cityyear.org/default_ektid22283.aspx
http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=learn.howvol

7. For the Activists
The presidential election is nearing, and you live in a swing state! Now is the perfect time to pick a side and go with it (and by go with it, I mean volunteer). Political campaigns often give you chances to quickly move up the ranks, giving young (and mature) adults leadership opportunities.

http://www.barackobama.com/mi/
http://www.mittromney.com/forms/real-reform

8. For the Medically-minded:
The baby-boomers are aging, leaving the US with a great demand for healthcare workers. If you are looking to break in to this segment, you can get your start in a hospital eager for volunteers. This also gives you the chance to gain that extra fuzzy feeling caused by working one-on-one.

http://www.dmc.org/volunteer.html
http://www.henryford.com/body.cfm?id=47742
http://www.childrensdmc.org/volunteers

9. For the Global Citizens:
Volunteering is the easiest way to get involved with the international community. It’s also one of the easiest ways to learn about a different culture. How? Get involved with a youth exchange program, or even host an exchange student. Because the US is one of the most popular exchange year destinations, most programs are facing a shortage of host families:

http://www.macombchinapartnership.com/category/get-involved/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtejT2UfCeI
http://www.afs.org/afs-and-volunteerism/